Why we need LED performance standards

Gary Heald says buyers need clear, consistent, unambiguous performance data. Let’s stop fudging the numbers

LED warranties are essential. But if they are to mean anything, they must be supported by recognised performance standards and backed by an established business.

We use LM80, essentially a US stress test conducted over a minimum of 6,000 hours with a formula (TM21) to extrapolate the results to predict lifetime performance.

The LM80 standard originated in 2008 and has been accepted in the industry. Any LED luminaire manufacturer that claims to be credible should be prepared to use this standard and publish the results.

Little appetite for standards

Internationally, lighting standards emanate from the handful of global light source manufacturers that dominate this industry. But so far they have shown little appetite or enthusiasm for making simple standards to rid the industry of ambiguity and push the LED agenda forward.

Some persist with ambiguous language such as ‘nominal’ CCT, ‘typical’ CRI or ‘typical’ efficacy on published data – what does that mean?

The vacuum created by the lack of internationally recognised standards has led to a stream of misleading claims that disguise the high percentage of products in the market that are poor in performance and will let the buyer down.

Something to hide?

This situation could continue for some time because the international standard IEC/PAS 62717 is only at committee draft stage, and its requirements are so wide that general compliance means very little and the best products are in danger of being lumped together with those that perform less well. I can only imagine that this will benefit those with some detail to hide, including, perhaps, some of the largest manufacturers.
Until all LED products are tested in the same way, to the same standards and the results are shown in the same way, people outside the industry will never fully understand what they are buying, and unscrupulous and misleading operators will take advantage.

So far none of these standards mentions control gear and system reliability, both of which are vital to long-term performance. That’s another debate.

Cards on the table

Projection started manufacturing fixtures over 20 years ago and plans to still be doing so in another 20 years. It launched its first Alpha LED luminaires in 2008 and the quality, quantity and longevity of light has always been its primary focus.

We use LM80 and 20,000-hour life testing as well as almost four years of actual product performance data to publish our guarantee: no noticeable colour shift and a maximum of five per cent lumen depreciation across the installation after five years.

This is one of the reasons our Alpha LED luminaire continues to be used in prestigious projects all over the world.

In the next decade, most new luminaires sold will be LED-based – many predict that they will represent 80 per cent of the market. It is therefore vital that the correct standards are developed to show a accurately represent performance.

Although there are performance standards, they must be developed independently, with self-interested parties excluded. That’s the way to get clear, unambiguous standards. It’s either that or stick with the status quo, and continue to let dubious product claims distort the market.

Gary Heald, managing director, Projection Lighting

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